The 10,000-member ZonaZoo crowd at the University of Arizona can look for one particularly significant change beginning this fall. The Zoo's football section, which last season opened four hours before game time, has been moved back to two hours.
But the ZonaZoo Crew, the 40-member student committee that runs the Zoo, will be using social media to keep students apprised on how the crowd is shaping up.
Eller College senior Hillary Davidson, the executive director of ZonaZoo, said rather than queue up for hours ahead of the game, students can use text messaging (37392 and type in zonazoo) to get "ZonaZoo Alerts" on the size of the crowd lining up outside the gate.
That way, she said, students can better gauge whether they'll be among the 10,000 admitted into Arizona Stadium. Davidson said they'll also get updates on other activities, such as the ZonaZoo tailgate party on the UA Mall and how to buy tickets for away games.
T-shirt distribution runs through Friday this week and Monday through Thursday next week from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and next Friday, Sept. 2, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the southeast end of Arizona Stadium.
For first-year students, there is Welcome to the Zoo on Friday, Aug. 26, from 6-7 p.m. in Geronimoz Plaza on University Boulevard just east of Euclid Avenue. The event is a chance for new students to learn about UA traditions before the football season starts.
ZonaZoo also will host Wildcat Watch in the Student Union Cellar during away games. And there will be a contest to come up with a ZonaZoo app specifically for Droid phones.
"We're always looking for new ideas. That includes looking for student feedback via social media. That's big this year," Davidson said. The Zoo directors have in the past gotten feedback through the ZonaZoo website.
"We're going to push more to talk to students at the tailgate or Bear Down Friday rally. We plan to walk around and ask ‘What else would you like to see?'"
"We're also going to ramp up our Bear Down Fridays a little more this year. The UA band, Wilbur and Wilma, the cheerleaders and others will be there, but we'll try to get other performers and engage more students and members of the community because it really is a community event."
Davidson said a special section for kids at Bear Down Friday last year was a hit and will continue this year as well.
Head basketball coach Sean Miller will be among the guests at the first Bear Down Friday on Sept. 2.